There are an amazing number of regimental histories and other publications about the Civil War. Both sides wanted to document their stories so we have access to an amazing historical collection – many of them in the public domain. Since most of these publications were written soon after the war by the people who served, we have an opportunity to see this moment in history up close and personal. And, many of these publication are now in the public domain so we can download a copy at no cost.
Here are a number of sources for finding these historical publications.
- Internet Archive. This is an amazing archive covering a broad range of documents, audio, video and images – most of them public domain. Their search feature is quite impressive. (See The Internet Archive for more information.)
- WorldCat. Looking for a card catalog for libraries around the world? WorldCat will show you which libraries have the book you want.
- Genealogy Gophers. This amazing search engine lets you search for a person, place or event and the results not only find the publication, but also points you to the page and paragraph where it is discussed.
- Project Gutenberg currently has a library of 56,000+ public domain books available for download as ebooks. You will find a number of civil war publications here.
- The Digital Public Library of America is a directory pointing to collections found in America’s libraries, archives, museums, and other institutions. Your searches will lead you to those institutions so you can download a digital copy at no charge.
Did you know that there are thousands of digitized family histories, regional and local histories, genealogy magazines along with how-to books, gazetteers, newsletters, and medieval histories freely available online? Organizations like Project Gutenberg, FamilySearch, Internet Archive, Google Books and educational institutions have been hard at work for years. That’s both good news and bad news. While there are a lot of freely-accessible publications available, finding them can be a challenge. That’s where Genealogy Gophers comes in. The Gophers have built an amazing search engine that will not only find the publication, but find – and display – the information that matches your search. In the example below, I’m looking for information about my ancestor, John Lewis Gervais, in South Carolina.
Within seconds I had two pages of results with excerpts showing the information matching my search. Clicking the title will display a screen that includes source information for that publication along with a reader opened to the page where the information on my ancestor appears.
In this example, there is only one page referencing my ancestor. The orange pointer you see at the bottom of the reading window is a bookmark to that page. In publications where there are multiple results, you will see additional pointers. Click on a pointer to move to that page. There are also controls to navigate forward and backward in this book, enlarge or reduce the view and more. Notice the link at the top of the reader to download a PDF copy of the publication.
Genealogy Gophers is free if you don’t mind responding to a number of surveys. If you don’t like surveys, a $19.95/year subscription will remove them.